Dominik says Bucs running game needs time
Bucs general manager Mark Dominik reinforced coach Raheem Morris' position that the Bucs will keep an open mind about who gets the bulk of the carries in the backfield, saying the team will go with the "hot" back and emphasizing that the running game is still evolving.
Asked if the Bucs are looking for a back to supplant starter Cadillac Williams or for someone to be a complementary back, Dominik was noncommittal. Williams is currently averaging 2.5 yards per carry after 55 carries in three games.
"I think you’re looking for a way to make it all work together," he said. "I think Coach Morris hit it right on the head. If a guy gets really hot then he becomes the guy.
"Certainly, you can take it anyway you want to. You could say that Cadillac’s had a couple of runs called back because of penalties. Some of his better runs. That’s been the most disappointing thing for Caddy, that all his best runs have been called back. That obviously skews numbers, but we still want to be a better running team. To do that, you want to have a variety of backs to carry the ball. The nice thing about Cadillac versus (LeGarrette) Blount versus (Kregg) Lumpkin or Earnest (Graham), in a way, they all have different traits. None of them are the same type of back. That’s the kind of thing that you like about the crew that you have back there right now."
Dominik on several occasions repeated the fact that the backfield remains a work in progress and that the questions about the running game could be answered more thoroughly after the team's upcoming games.
He then was asked whether the Bucs should have addressed the running back position in the offseason rather than claiming Blount and Lumpkin off waivers heading into Week 1 shortly after releasing Derrick Ward. As a result, Blount and Lumpkin have spent the past several weeks trying to get up to speed on the playbook. The Bucs have also been affected by the absence of Kareem Huggins, who hasn't played since the preseason because of a groin injury. He is expected to return Sunday at Cincinnati.
"We had Derrick Ward here and it didn’t pan out for Derrick Ward -- here," Dominik said. "So, when we made the decision, the first thing we wanted to do was go get the big backs. And a lot of that was precipitated by the fact that we felt those two backs were really talented. We weren’t just looking to sign a running back just to sign a running back. We felt both of those guys had real ability to help this football team, certainly now that we have 13 straight weeks (remaining)."
Even while saying the Bucs are open to others taking away from Williams' carries, Dominik was careful to not suggest that the intent is to replace Williams.
"Let me say it this way: I think the idea is we want to spell him," Dominik said. ". . . If you want to spell him, it’s because we have 13 straight weeks to go. The excitement is that LeGarrette’s gotten more comfortable and certainly Lumpkin. Depending on who all dresses game day, the key is to let more of them have an opportunity. It falls on everybody."